The wonderful New York Times recently published an op-ed that appears to have really resonated, as it's been on their "most e-mailed" list for a few days now. Here's the piece.
I suppose that if you listen to the anecdotal evidence (also known as your friends and family's bitching and groaning about their kids), the idea that children can stress a marriage won't be news to you. But I'm actually a lot more interested by another point the article makes (although note, the whole thing is worth reading!): Parents today spend much more time with their children than they did 40 years ago.
Now there's a counterintuitive idea. Aren't we the generation of the overworked, overwhelmed, over-stressed? We're all obsessed with money, getting ahead, or just keeping up, and our poor neglected families suffer for it? I love when empirical evidence comes along to shatter our cozy assumptions - especially when those assumptions involve re-casting the past in a warm but totally inaccurate light.
Almost every working mother you know will tell you that she's felt at least a tiny little twinge of guilt at the fact that her job keeps her away from her children for x number of hours a week. If she didn't feel that guilt on her own, trust me, she's been served heapings of it from every conceivable source. And a huge factor in all of this is this mythical creature we seem to have created out of thin air: the doting mother from gentler days, always home and available for the kids, always busily sewing Halloween costumes and casually baking up brownies for tomorrow's Boy Scouts meeting, always dreaming up family activities and diligently ensuring everyone had their clean socks and sundry for the week. Yeah, I didn't need a study to tell me that we dreamed most of this up. In reality, those moms were far too busy to be planning play dates and carefully micromanaging each child's homework, hovering away in the background. And when Fridays rolled around, you can bet mom and dad weren't settling down with the kiddies for family movie night. More likely, you'd be deposited at the home of your crazy cat lady neighbor Mrs. McLeod while they went out and got their drink on.
No real deep thoughts here. I'm just cackling with the dark amusement of the (for-now...until the next study comes out, anyway!) vindicated.